Ada Lovelace – I Look Like An Engineer

iCompute Author Liane O'Kane

iCompute’s Liane O’Kane marks Ada Lovelace Day with #iLookLikeAnEngineer

I’m not cut out to be a participant in online social media campaigns.  I’m a Computer Scientist and a teacher.  Case in point: I’m having a touch of  angst about a selfie I posted on Twitter yesterday to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day.  I’m now wondering whether I’ve addressed sexism in the technology industry or perpetuated it?

Being a graduate of computing science in the 90’s where I was one only one of three women in my year and now as a teacher of computing, I was thrilled to see that #AdaLovelaceDay was trending on Twitter yesterday.  I had just written a computing unit for primary pupils featuring her contribution to history as the worlds first computer programmer as part of my primary computing scheme of work.  I then saw that it was being celebrated by thousands of women around the world in technology/science/engineering/maths posting photographs of themselves at work with the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer.  I joined the many women keen to dispel the stereotype of what constitutes an engineer – in my case a software engineer – by adding my photo.

All good.  Except that I then spotted the BBC headline “‘Too hot to be an engineer’ – Women mark Ada Lovelace day”.  The connotations of that headline and my contribution marking Ada Lovelace Day did not sit at all comfortably.  Some posts on Twitter, by women, added to my unease: asking whether women posting images of themselves inevitably focused the conversation towards looks, thus perpetuating perceptions of women in technology.  True, if that’s what is is about.  But it’s not.  Note the quotes in the headline – ‘Too hot to be an engineer’.  That is a comment made by male colleagues to a female software engineer after she took part in a promotional campaign for her company.  To put it diplomatically, they questioned whether her image fit that of a ‘typical’ engineer and suggested that people would find it unlikely that she was one.  The Twitter campaign, #iLookLikeAnEngineer, has taken flight because women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) want the world to see that women are engineers – in my case a software engineer.

I’m not interested in showing men that I’m an engineer because I have never, in all my many years in the computing industry, encountered what I would call sexism.  I’ve never missed out on a job, had my contributions dismissed nor been promoted because I’m a women.  I’ve been mistaken for the tea lady in meetings but I didn’t get hysterical about it – I simply spoke with some authority on my subject and they no longer expected a milk with two sugars.  I’ve also been asked, when taking notes, if I was writing a shopping list for making my husband’s dinner. That was a joke and I laughed.  We women need to lose the silicone chip on our shoulders.  They’re not out to get us and we’re not posting pictures of ourselves to look good.

I participated in the campaign because I’m a teacher and I want more girls to take STEM subjects.  I want girls to know that they won’t be the first woman in technology (thank you Ada Lovelace) and that there are lots of us out there continuing to make a contribution. A contribution that we’d love them to be a part of.  So girls, here is what an engineer looks like:

Primary Algorithms outdoors

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

girls with ipads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls outside with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls outside with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

primary algorithms

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Primary Computing Keywords Poster

Computing Keywords Classroom Display

Primary Computing Keywords Poster

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Download iCompute’s free primary computing keywords classroom display poster.

Also use our teacher guide for computing  terms which is available here.

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iCompute for iPad app – teaching resources at your finger tips

iCompute iPad Apps

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At this time of year, with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having throughout the UK, it’s not hard to see the benefits of teaching primary computing with iPads.

One of the main advantages that my pupils point out about iPads over pcs/laptops is that you can pick them up and carry them around.  So carry them around we have throughout this summer term.  I’ve been teaching from our iPad pack and taking our computing lessons outside.

children with ipads

Taking computing learning outside

Teaching our iPad units just got easier with the launch of our iCompute for iPad apps that now also sell as individual year groups on the App Store.

I can now tap and share resources like pupil support materials and worksheets using AirDrop, play our video screencasts and model how to use the programming apps on the interactive whiteboard using AirPlay.  Our teaching resources are now literally at my fingertips.  All I need is my iPad, iCompute for iPad and appropriate programming apps and I’m good to go.  Anywhere.

children with ipads

Fun in the sun

The possibilities are limitless and I’m so enthused by the success of teaching computing using iPads that I’m currently developing a new product – iCompute Across the Curriculum.  This will help consolidate the children’s learning in computing, allow them to practice their skills and enhance other areas of the curriculum.

For now though, the children are enjoying the great outdoors and creating some fantastic apps to compliment their forthcoming sports days.  Fingers crossed the weather plays ball!

 

Find out more about our whole-school scheme of work and iPad packs at http://www.icompute-uk.com

iPad Apps for Primary Computing

Primary Computing

with iPads

Pupils using iPad Apps

Maximise the potential of iPads in your classroom

With the introduction of the new primary computing curriculum in September 2014 and Ofsted inspection guidance emphasising the need to use mobile technologies in classrooms, more primary schools than ever now have iPads.

One question I get asked frequently as a primary computer science master teacher and author of iCompute, a primary computing scheme of work, is how best  teachers and schools can make full use of their iPads to, not only teach computing discretely, but also to embed it in other subject areas.

The list is by no means exhaustive and will be ever changing, but I’ve put together a document you can download and use outlining what I consider to be some of the best iPad apps around  the moment that offer potential for enhancing and enriching teaching and learning in primary computing and embedding it throughout the curriculum.

I’ve also cross-referenced the apps against the three areas of primary computing – Digital Literacy, Information Technology and Computing and highlighted which our iPad Pack use explicitly for structured half-termly units of work with step-by-step lesson plans and pupil worksheets/support materials.

Primary Computing iPad Apps

Click to download

I’m developing new schemes at the moment aimed at enhancing teaching and learning using iPads across other subject areas.

Coming soon will be the first in a series, iInvestigate, providing units for engaging, practical, primary science investigations that also use iPads and some brilliant iPad apps.

 

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Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Computing in the EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage

EYFS Computing

BETT Awards 2018

Introducing Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Ideas for activities & continuous provision incl. assessment. Creative EYFS computing lesson plans & resources.

This post has now been superseded by an updated version – Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage.  Click the link or the image below to visit the new version, which gives more details about the benefits of introducing children to computing early and has further details about our computing in the EYFS scheme.

eyfs-computing

Click to visit updated post

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Teach primary computing with iPads

iCompute for iPad

Teach primary computing with iPads

Our best-selling iPad pack is now available in the Cloud!

Instant access to comprehensive lesson plans and all the resources schools need to teach primary computing using the very latest apps with iPads.

We have big plans for our iPad pack and will soon be adding a new pack – iInvestigate – step-by-step lesson plans and resources for enhancing Primary Science using iPads.

 

iCompute Finalist in two Bett Awards 2015

iCompute shortlisted for two BETT 2015 Awards

iCompute celebrate

iCompute finalists for two BETT Awards – 2015

iCompute, the digital computing scheme of work for primary schools, is proud to announce being shortlisted for the ‘Primary Digital Content’ and ‘Best Whole Course Subject Curriculum Resource’ BETT Awards 2015 for its whole-school and iPad computing scheme of work.

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Understanding Primary Computing and Ofsted

This post has been superseded by posts with guidance on the Ofsted Inspection Framework for Computing Subject Leaders and How to Thrive an Ofsted Deep Dive.


David Brown, Ofsted National Lead for Computing recently presented how computing will be inspected.   Here I highlight some important points for primary schools to consider.  Please note that italicized text are my own comments.

 

The three strands of computing as defined by most educational and industry experts have taken root and are:

  • Computer Science
  • Digital Literacy
  • Information Technology
Computing Strands

Click to download iCompute’s breakdown of computing strands against NC objectives for primary computing

Teaching

For Good or Better teaching, teachers have an enthusiasm and passion for computing.  Teachers use a wide variety of innovative and imaginative resources and teaching techniques.

Subject knowledge is excellent, continually up-to-date and demonstrates a high level of technical expertise – a challenge for primary teachers, most of whom have never been trained to teach computing.

Curriculum

The curriculum is broad and balanced and covers all three strands of computing.  It is imaginative, stimulating, progressive and set in contexts meaningful to the children.  The inspectors will be aware that older children will not have benefited from being taught a full computing programme of study for the preceding key stage.

Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in realistic and challenging situations.  Pupils have comprehensive knowledge and understanding about how to stay safe when using new technologies.

Subject Leadership

High levels of subject expertise and vision with a strong record of innovation in computing.  CPD is well-targeted – accessing CPD in computing is difficult as there is currently a severe lack of primary computing experts nationally.

Access to computing equipment is outstanding and the school is likely to have promoted the use of mobile technologies – note this is ‘likely’ and can be achieved by using a small number of low-cost tablets.  Many of my schools with limited budgets use emulators (see iCompute’s Year 6 iApp unit) to teach children the benefits of mobile technologies where they are unable to physically use them.

There is an engaging, age-appropriate e-safety curriculum in place – In my opinion, this should not be a stand-alone curriculum.  E-Safety issues should be addressed, in context, in subjects and situations where pupils engage online (see more in this post).  This clearly will be in all areas of the curriculum, however computing presents obvious opportunities to discuss and develop understanding and skills about how to stay safe in a digital world.  In my curriculum, I clearly flag e-Safety issues where they are likely to occur in computing lessons and give guidance as to how to address them as well as provide, free, discrete e-Safety planning for schools who wish to cover e-Safety as a discrete subject (e.g. part of PHSE).

E-safety is a priority within the school and promoted throughout.  Staff receive regular training and rigorous policies are in place.

Primary Computing – Model Computing Policy

Computing Policy

iCompute Model Computing Policy

Click to download

With the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2, we’ve had requests from many schools using iCompute’s Primary Computing schemes of work to provide a model computing policy for them to adapt and use in their school.

 

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Primary Computing – Classroom Tips and Advice

computing lcassThe new primary computing curriculum becomes statutory in September with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  Primary schools are now beginning to think seriously about, not only how to teach this new subject, but what it means for them in practical terms.  I’m being asked lots of questions in the run-up to its introduction, the most common, aside from improving subject knowledge, being: Should it be taught in a cross-curricular way or discretely?  How long for?  What about new hardware/software?  How will they cope with pupil support?

I’ve been teaching computing to primary children for a long time and here are some of my tips for what you will (and won’t) need; along with advice on how to manage your class and some possible teaching techniques you could use when you start teaching computing in September.

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Primary Computing – Risky Business – managing eSafety

Digital Safety

Lock engaging online down or manage it?

eSafety in Primary Schools

The primary computing curriculum aims to help young children develop the skills to become digitally literate enabling them to fully participate in an increasingly digital world: to communicate, collaborate, create and express themselves using technology.  The ever-increasing wealth of technologies available presents exciting, and rapidly evolving, opportunities to interact, socialise and learn online. But it also poses potential dangers and the new National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2, rightly, has a focus on teaching children to stay safe online.

In our changing technological world, we teachers need to better understand digital education as a pedagogy and I often get asked how I teach and manage eSafety in my classes.

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Primary Computing – A Teacher Guide for Mozilla Thimble

Mozilla Thimble

Create and share your own webpages with Mozilla Thimble

As part of my role as a primary computer science master teacher, I train teachers on how to teach the new primary computing curriculum.

When covering networks, the internet and the world wide web, I can’t wait to introduce teachers to the delights of Mozilla X-Ray Goggles (which everyone loves!) and basic web page creation using Mozilla Thimble: an online HTML editor.

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The Primary Computing Curriculum – You Go Girls!

girls computing

Computing is not just for boys

One of the reasons the new primary computing curriculum is being introduced is to address the issue that far fewer girls than boys study computer science in further and higher education and are therefore under-represented in industry.  There’s a perception that computer science is a bit of a boys subject and various laudable, although I feel somewhat patronising, efforts to ‘get girls coding’ usually take the form of designing activities that play to stereotypes: dressing up etc.  I’ve been teaching primary computing for a long time now and I’ve yet to have a single girl not be engaged in my lessons; although I do accept that this could largely be influenced by the fact that it is me teaching them.  And I’m about as girlie as you can get.  It’s difficult to judge which question I get stopped and asked most about in school – ‘Are we doing computing today?’ or ‘Where did you get your shoes?’

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Primary Computing – ‘Holding Back the Years’ Fears

Worried Computing Teacher

Worried your pupils will be ahead of you in computing?

The new National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2 is, arguably, one of the few subjects that primary teachers fear their pupils will know more about than themselves.

A question I frequently get asked is ‘How do you cope when the children know more than you do’?  As a Computer Scientist, it takes a lot to out-geek me but I know many teachers feel they have no hope of keeping ahead of the children they will be teaching.

There’s no need to.  Children seemingly racing ahead with what look like quite sophisticated software and systems is no guarantee of them making progress in computing; because you’re teaching them much more than just programming.  Here are a few tips on how to facilitate learning in computing whilst not holding your pupils back.

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Primary Computing Curriculum – planning guidance

Computing Skills Progression

Computing Skills Progression

This post has been superceded by How to Plan a Primary Computing Scheme of Work

 

 

 

 

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Guide to the Primary Computing Curriculum – Why I hate the term ‘code’

Primary Computing

Computing in Primary Schools

The primary computing curriculum became statutory in September 2014 and across the country teachers and schools are having a meltdown.  Here’s a new subject teachers have never been trained to teach and they have to teach children from the age of 5 how to ‘code’.

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